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Funding flows into Great Barrier Reef water quality projects

Projects that help reduce polluted runoff to the Great Barrier Reef are among the first water quality improvement initiatives to receive funding through the Reef Trust Partnership (RTP).

The 11 projects, which received a combined $19 million in the RTP’s first water quality funding round, include: restoring gullies to reduce the amount of sediment discharging to the Great Barrier Reef lagoon; improving farming practices and fertiliser management; and providing more training opportunities for early career agricultural experts.

The RTP is a $443.3 million, six-year program between the Department of the Environment and Energy, which manages the Reef Trust, and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation (GBRF).

GBRF Managing Director Anna Marsden said the chosen projects all have a track record of improving conditions on the world’s largest coral reef system.

“Declining coastal water quality, influenced by land-based runoff, is a significant threat to the long-term health and resilience of the Great Barrier Reef,” Marsden said.

“The accumulated impacts of climate change, poor water quality and other local stresses are having a dire effect on the reef. That’s why we have to do everything we can to build the Reef’s resilience, right now.”

Funding will be spread across regional Queensland, with projects in Cairns, Townsville, Mackay, the Burdekin district, Mossman and the Mary River.

The projects will be delivered in partnership with landholders and industry organisations, including the Queensland Cane Growers Association (Canegrowers), which received funding to expand its ‘Cane Changer’ program.

Canegrowers Chairman Paul Schembri said the program was created in 2016 to recognise the innovations of Canegrowers members who are helping to protect the environment.

“In its first two years, 250 growers in the Wet Tropics region have been involved in workshops, and accreditations in the industry’s best practice program ‘Smartcane BMP’ have increased by 300%,” he said.

“We welcome this funding commitment, which will allow Cane Changer to continue in the Wet Tropics and expand into more areas of Queensland … in the coming months.”

While the first round of investment builds on existing programs, future RTP funding rounds will include innovative approaches to improving water quality.

View a full list of projects here.